Looking after your mental health during self-isolation
By Rosie Walsh
The world is a scary place at the moment, with a lot of uncertainty over how the next few weeks and months will pan out. For many of us, social-distancing, quarantines and self-isolation have become our new reality, and that unfortunately means that our mental health may suffer. Whilst it may be difficult to stay positive amidst everything that is happening, there are a few things that may help you to look after your mental health whether you are self-isolating or simply staying indoors for a long period of time.
We may have to physically distance ourselves from others, but this doesn’t mean we have to completely isolate ourselves. It can be easy to stop talking to friends and family when you aren’t seeing them everyday but don’t fall into this trap – reach out to others and have a telephone call, Skype each other or simply send a text. It may not be the same as talking face to face but contact with others is crucial to mental wellbeing. Having the radio on is also a good way to keep in touch with the outside world – but make sure it’s not a constant stream of news!
Being stuck in the house all day can be daunting, but something that can help is filling your day with things to occupy you and give some structure. Revision and studying are obvious distractions, but there are plenty of other ideas, like clearing out your wardrobe or bedroom, making music playlists, making scrapbooks or completing online quizzes. Take advantage of online delivery services and order supplies for activities, such as paint and colouring books, and get creative. Keeping busy can really help with mental wellbeing, but make sure you don’t overload yourself!
Exercise is really important for good mental health and while the gym is not currently an option for many, you can still get your daily movement in at home. There are thousands of home workout videos online, whether it’s a full body HIIT, learning a dance or just some yoga, and can be done with limited space in your sitting room. If you have one, use your garden to get outside and get some fresh air. Daily exercise has been shown to have a huge effect on increasing mental wellbeing, and this is something that can really help when stuck indoors all day by releasing those endorphins. Even running up the stairs a few times can make a difference – anything that gets your heart rate up!
Take this opportunity to have time to yourself and do things that help you relax. Having a long, uninterrupted bath is a good way to relax, or practising meditation can help you to switch off for a while. Apps like Calm and Headspace can be really useful for this and can all be done with just your phone. It’s also important to take a break from the news – it can be very tempting to keep a constant live stream of information open all day, but try to avoid this to keep anxiety low. Whilst news apps can be good for keeping up to date, the media can also be very harmful, so consider deleting these from your phone for a while.
Finally – don’t forget the basics. Shower. Brush your teeth. Get dressed. Eat well. It can be tempting when you are staying in all day to stay in pyjamas and watch Netflix in bed, and whilst this can sometimes be good for you, it can also make you miserable if it’s the only thing you do. Even when you’re staying inside the house, getting up and dressing can help your mental wellbeing and gives a purpose to the day, as well as improving quality of sleep. Looking after your physical self can help with your mental health, so don’t forget to do this.
It can be hard to stay positive in the face of all that’s happening, but if you are feeling overwhelmed there are also people you can call to help. Samaritans (116 123), Mind (0300 123 3393) and SANE (0300 304 7000) are just some options, but there are lots of websites and helplines that can offer support and advice if you’re struggling with your mental health.
As difficult as this can be, remember this is only temporary. It’s going to be hard, but we will get through this and come out stronger the other side x